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“A Great Community Effort”: Omakere community plants 1300 native grasses

On a foggy Sunday morning, the Omakere community came together for an impressive endeavour, planting 1300 native grasses along the banks of the Mangamahaki Stream adjacent to the Omakere Hall.

The Mangamahaki Catchment, supported by a grant from local catchment collective Tukituki Land Care (TLC), are showcasing best practice for establishing and maintaining riparian planting following the removal of willows from the Mangamahaki Stream by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC).

The ambitious project will see a total of 2,500 plants and trees planted along a stretch of the Mangamahaki Stream, with a second planting day planned for July.

“It was a great community effort,” said Kahlia Fryer, Catchment Coordinator at TLC. “Seeing locals turn up with their spades, children, and heaps of enthusiasm was awesome. They planted 1,300 grasses by lunchtime and still had big smiles on their faces at the end.”

Waipukurau nursery, Central Natives, joined the project to help devise a planting plan tailored to the specific conditions of the area. At a site visit prior to the planting day, TLC met with local farmers and the team from Central Natives to observe the floodwater levels.

The group decided to limit the plant species to those that can tolerate being underwater during floods and allow debris to pass over or around them. A thick mat of Carex Secta has now been planted on the bends exposed to the full impact of floodwaters. These grasses have a robust root system that helps hold banks together and can handle water flowing over them without damaging the plants.

A number of donated Western Himalayan Alder trees were also planted as part of a trial to test how this variety work in the riparian environment.

The community’s concerns about the state of the Mangamahaki Stream, its significant flood risk, and its impact on businesses and the community were expressed at a meeting with HBRC in April 2022. It was agreed that a proactive approach was needed to prevent ongoing stream degradation from congestion caused by trees and residual debris, which were leading to significant sediment loss, impacting water quality and stream health, and increasing safety concerns.

In response, HBRC recently began a three-year willow removal project to clear trees and debris along the stream, from the Omakere Hall to its confluence with the Tukituki River, covering approximately 25.5 kilometres.

The Mangamahaki planting project aims to ‘rethink riparian planting’ by showcasing best practices for establishing and maintaining riparian planting after the removal of willows. Through investigation and trialing of the latest approaches to riparian planting, TLC will gather information to share with other Tukituki subcatchments.

A second planting day, planned for July, will involve the planting of an additional 1,500 native plants and trees, including flax, cabbage trees, sedge, ribbonwoods, and manuka, furthering the community’s commitment to restoring the Mangamahaki Stream. To learn more about this project and similar initiatives in your area, follow Tukituki Land Care on Facebook.

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